Starting from studies included in Jan Patočka and the Heritage of Phenomenology, the author unfolds the thesis that Patočka was fundamentally a thinker in the tradition of the Enlightenment and of the Czech humanist revival. According to the author, Patočka sets out from Husserl’s phenomenology (in the spirit of Austrian positivism), deals with Heidegger’s objections (in the spirit of German idealism), and forges his own synthesis (in the spirit of French phenomenological vitalism). The author considers Patočka’s nihilistic phase, between the heartbreak of the Soviet occupation and the hope of Charta 77, as an extreme attempt to keep faith with the hopes of the Enlightenment in an age that offered no hope.
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